County Council Auditors to release Report in the Public Interest

PRESS RELEASE - 11th January 2021


Community R4C calls for confidential draft report to be shown to councillors and public

Gloucestershire County Council auditors Grant Thornton are said to be preparing to issue a ‘report in the
public interest’ concerning the Javelin Park incinerator contract. The controversial £613 million waste
treatment contract awarded to contractors UBB was the subject of a recent High Court case brought by
Community R4C alleging breach of procurement law and more than £150 million illegal state aid.

A confidential draft ‘provisional views’ report on the contract has been sent by Grant Thornton for comment
to both Community R4C objectors and to GCC itself prior to being finalised. This will allow GCC accounts for
the last three years to be signed off.

‘Reports in the Public Interest’ by local government auditors are rare. Typically they involve criticism of local
authorities and other governmental organisations for financial mismanagement or lack of governance.

Tom Jarman, a director of Community R4C and one of the original objectors, said:

“Bizarrely, the details of the draft provisional views report from auditors Grant Thornton are being kept
confidential even from councillors but I can confirm that it includes a proposed ‘report in the public interest’
about breaches in procurement law by GCC.

“This vindicates our original complaint in 2017 and shows that this is an important matter of public interest.
It suggests that the Council failed to follow good process in awarding the 2016 contract to UBB without
competitive tender. Had such a report been available at the time it is likely that we would not have been
forced to go to court to bring this to public attention.”

Community R4C is calling for the confidential draft report to be made public. Sue Oppenheimer, co-chair of Community R4C, said:

“This report by the GCC auditors must be shared with councillors and the public. The £613 million Javelin
Park contract is the largest in our county’s history and was kept secret by a Council cabal for three years
because it was awarded without competitive tender and breached procurement law. Now is the time for full
transparency and for the most detailed examination by councillors, especially the Audit & Governance

The process for issuing reports in the public interest is set out in the Local Audit and Accountability Act 2014.
Recent reports issued by Grant Thornton include Croydon and Derby.

Community R4C claims the secret 2016 Javelin Park waste treatment contract broke procurement law
because it was awarded to Urbaser Balfour Beatty without competitive tender. It replaced an earlier 2013
contract but was £163 million (36 %) more expensive. CR4C says the majority of this increase is illegal state
aid and £10’s millions can be recovered by the County from UBB.



Community R4C is a Community Benefit Society based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, and registered with
the Financial Conduct Authority. In 2016 Community R4C raised almost £100,000 in a groundbreaking
Community Share Scheme to facilitate its aims and the building of an alternative waste resource recovery
plant – the R4C plant – in co-operation with investors and partners. Community R4C has widespread support,
both within and outside Gloucestershire including from well known campaigners for sustainability including
Jeremy Irons and Jonathon Porritt.

1 Public Interest reports

2 Procurement law and illegal state aid
Community R4C has consistently tried to expose the breach of procurement law by Gloucestershire County
Council and of illegal state laws by UBB in regard to the Javelin Park contract. They say that legal challenges
by GCC itself could recover a significant proportion of the illegal £613M contract, part in a immediate lump
sum, and part in reduced costs to GCC going forward.

3 Realigning the contract with environmental regulations
They say action on the illegal contract would also lead to other changes which would incentivise rather than
discourage recycling, such as a new price structure and eliminating the current requirement that GCC must
pay for a large minimum tonnage each year no matter how much waste it actually sends to the incinerator.
Burning of recyclable plastic produce large amounts of CO2, so it is essential to stop this if the Councils pledges on the climate emergency are to be met. CR4C also proposes the introduction of a pre-treatment
plant to recover carbon -emitting materials such as plastics and valuable recyclables such as metals rather
than burning them.